Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Inside the colorful Los 3 Reyes Bakery in Faribault October 6, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:50 AM
Los 3 Reyes Bakery, at the center of a controversy over paint color in historic downtown Faribault.

Los 3 Reyes Bakery, at the center of a controversy over paint color in historic downtown Faribault.

Stacks of pastries and bright colors greet customers inside the bakery.

Stacks of pastries and bright colors greet customers inside the bakery.

“DO THEY HAVE DOUGHNUTS?” Randy asks me.

I pause, think. “I didn’t see any,” I tell my husband after visiting Los 3 Reyes Bakery in Faribault. The business is at the center of a dispute over exterior paint color and I have come to photograph the vivid green building. (See my blog, “A controversy over color in downtown Faribault,” posted Sept. 30 on Minnesota Prairie Roots.)

This is not your typical Minnesota bakery, and if there are doughnuts, I missed them.

But I observe an abundance of other treats to tempt my sweet tooth inside this bright, cheery ethnic bakery with the checkered floor. Rows of huge conchas line baking sheets. I don’t know Spanish, so I ask Javier, who is manning the business, to write down the word for me. “Shell,” he says. I look again at the pastries and see that they resemble shells.

I point to another pastry. He writes down besos. Later I use Google translate to learn that the word means kisses.

Next, I photograph gallinas, which translates to hens.

Javier smiles all the while I am photographing. He offers to remove a sign from the glass that protects racks of pasteles, tempting cakes topped with strawberry glaze or carefully arranged rings of kiwi and strawberries and peaches. These are works of art, almost too pretty to eat, I think.

I tell Javier that I want him to leave everything just as it is, to change nothing. We talk some about the issue of color and he says the bakery is getting support to keep the bright green exterior despite the objections of some. I tell him I like the color too.

The longer I am inside this bakery, the more I believe the hue, a green color popular in Mexican culture, fits this place.

This bakery speaks to happiness. Above me colorful piñatas dangle from the ceiling and sit atop display cases. The pastries and cakes, so foreign to my Minnesota bakery standards of doughnuts, long johns and bismarcks, simply draw me in with their ethnic allure. The entire bakery exudes warmth and smells absolutely delicious.

And then there is the bakery name—Los 3 Reyes Bakery. I turn to my daughter, Miranda, who is majoring in Spanish in college and who lived in Argentina for six months, for help. Los Tres Reyes Bakery, she tells me, likely refers to the Three Kings bearing gifts for children on January 6. This is part of Latin American culture, similar to Santa delivering gifts on Christmas.

I have learned so much already about differences in culture simply by walking through the doors of the bright green Los 3 Reyes Bakery at 409 Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault.

Selecting treats at Mariano Perez' bakery.

Selecting treats at Mariano Perez' bakery.

Rows of conchas.

Rows of conchas.

Colorful pinatas are also sold at Los 3 Reyes Bakery.

Colorful pinatas are also sold at Los 3 Reyes Bakery.

Gallinas, another delectable offering.

Gallinas, another delectable offering.

Colorful pasteles on display.

Tempting pasteles on display.

(The Faribault City Council’s Joint Committee meets at 7:15 tonight in the public meeting room of city hall to discuss several issues, including “Regulation of downtown building colors,” according to agenda information posted on the city website.)

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling